The Vancouver Canucks have made a change in net, signing goaltender Braden Holtby to a two-year deal worth $8.6 million. Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) makes a save as New York Islanders centre Brock Nelson (29) looks for the rebound during first period NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Vancouver Canucks sign veteran goaltender Braden Holtby to 2-year deal

Each team can protect only one goalie in the Seattle expansion draft next year

Braden Holtby figures he’ll have no trouble fitting in with his new team.

The veteran netminder signed a two-year, US$8.6-million deal with Vancouver on Friday as the Canucks made a key change between the pipes on the opening day of free agency.

“I’m a guy who believes in hard work and competitiveness and a hard style of hockey. And you see a lot of the players on the Canucks that fit right into that mold,” the former Washington Capital told reporters on a video call.

“From an outsider looking in, I think it’s going to be a great fit and I’m really excited to get after it.”

Signing the five-time all-star means the Canucks are moving on from previous starter Jacob Markstrom, who also hit the free-agent market on Friday and signed a six-year deal with the Calgary Flames.

Holtby now becomes a teammate of 24-year-old goaltender Thatcher Demko, who nearly led the Canucks to a comeback victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference semifinal after Markstrom was injured in Game 4.

Each team can protect only one goalie in the Seattle expansion draft next year.

Heading into free agency, Holtby said he was looking for a city that was a good fit for his family and a team that had “an extremely good chance of winning.”

Holtby, 31, has spent his entire decade-long career with the Capitals, winning a Stanley Cup with the club in 2017-18.

The native of Lloydminster, Sask., posted a .916 save percentage with a 2.53 goals-against average and 282-122-46 record during his time in Washington.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a release that the team is pleased to add an “experienced and established goaltender” to the roster.

“Braden is a Stanley Cup champion, brings leadership and has demonstrated the ability to rise to the occasion in big games. He will be an important part of our team,” he said.

Holtby struggled last season, however, and his save percentage fell to .897 with a 3.11 goals-against average.

He admits that the season was “a bit of a struggle at times” and “didn’t go as planned.”

During the COVID-19 hiatus, Holtby worked with Washington goalie coach Scott Murray to break down his game and find ways to address what wasn’t working.

“When things came back, I felt as good as I have in a long time,” he said.

In Vancouver, Holtby will share the workload with the up-and-coming Demko.

The American made a name for himself during the Canucks’ playoff run, stealing a pair of games against the Golden Knights to force a Game 7. Demko posted a 13-10-2 record with a .905 save percentage in regular-season play.

Working with a talented young goalie will be exciting, Holtby said.

“You want to be able to push each other and have success that way and I think that’s really exciting to me,” he said. “Puts some young blood back into me, too. It’s always exciting to work with the young guys, they see things a different way too and you can learn a lot from them.”

Having two good goaltenders will be essential for any team looking to make a playoff push next year, Holtby added.

“It’s going to be a condensed schedule, it’s going to be a grind and I think you’re going to have two guys that are going to win games for you,” he said. “In order to have success as a team and a chance to win a championship, you need to have two goalies who are going to get you there.”

The Canucks also locked up Tyler Motte on Friday, signing the depth centre to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Motte put up eight points (four goals, four assists) in 34 regular-season games with the Canucks last season. He also had a solid playoff run, adding five points (four goals, one assist) in 17 appearances.

“Tyler is a hard-working, physical player,” Benning said. “He adds versatility to our lineup, reads the game well and plays an important matchup role for our group.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks playing waiting game for new contract

Yale Hockey Academy product files for arbitration with Canucks, hearing set for Oct. 28

Schnitzelz restaurant returns to Abbotsford

Fried meat establishment moves from Aldergrove to Abbotsford

Abbotsford student dies after medical incident in class

Rick Hansen Secondary School offering additional counselling for students who require it

$93,000 in COVID-19 emergency support available to Abbotsford charities

Applications now open for grants through community foundation

167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

ERT, VPD response to White Rock home connected to homicide: police

Search underway in the 15800-block of Prospect Crescent

‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read